Australia: quarantine fees threaten foreign fruit trade

More News Top Stories
Australia: quarantine fees threaten foreign fruit trade

New quarantine inspection charges have Australian exporters clenching their pocketbooks, as the horticulture industry struggles to reach international markets, ABC Rural reported.citrus mix ffp

The federal government implemented a full cost recovery plan for investment made in six major agriculture sectors, including horticulture, starting in July 2011.

Two years of negotiations resulted in new fees as of July 2012 to correct under-collection in previous years. Although more streamlined export certification arrangements should eventually reduce the cost of exports, the full extent of benefits are not yet available.

Citrus producer Michael Punturiero lamented having missed the peak lime export season, following a substantial export bill.

According to ABC Rural, the charge to inspect an export packing shed rose from AUD$550 (US$567) last year to a current rate of about AUD$8,500 (US$8,762).

"I thought they made a big mistake. How can you justify - for two hours work on my property to register it - for two hours, AUD$8,530 (US$8,793)?" Punturiero told the Australian publication.

"The export opportunity has been closed on me because that starts the first week of February. I’ve only got six weeks of opportunity and that’s been closed on me."

AUD$6.5 million (US$6.7 million) has been approved to relieve fees through 2014, but as Citrus Australia chair Tania Chapman points out, the cost burden still  falls largely on the exporter.

"Small exporters will the ones that do have a much higher increase. If you’re large shed and pack about 16 containers for export, you’ll be better off. So what we will need to do is encourage smaller exporters to think laterally," Chapman told ABC Rural.

"If they only export three containers, how can they maximize the expense? So if there are three or four [small exporters] in one region, they need to work together. And we are happy to work with them on how they can achieve this."

Citrus Australia is one of many organizations that participated in negotiations with the government to relieve cost burdens. Despite relief, however, there remains concern about the impact on rural communities.

"As our horticulture and agriculture disposable incomes decrease year after year – obviously we’re going to see a shrinkage of people in those communities and services in those communities. It’s one of my big passions on how we can work on that. What we have to do is give our growers and exporters the best possible deal we can," Chapman said.


Subscribe to our newsletter